1998 Regular Session
To: Judiciary B
By: Representatives Stribling, Stringer, Clark, Denny, Guice, Hamilton, Robertson, Rotenberry
House Bill 1218
AN ACT TO CREATE THE MISSISSIPPI CRIME VICTIMS' BILL OF RIGHTS; TO ENSURE FAIR TREATMENT OF VICTIMS OF CRIME; TO INCREASE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Name and purpose.
This act may be cited as the "Mississippi Crime Victims' Bill of Rights." The purpose of this act is to ensure the fair and compassionate treatment of victims of crime, to increase the effectiveness of the criminal justice system by affording rights and considerations to the victims of crime, and to preserve and protect victims' rights to justice and fairness in the criminal justice system.
SECTION 2. Definitions.
The following terms shall be defined as follows:
(a) "Victim" means any person against whom a felony has been committed or attempted;
(b) "Guardian of a victim" means a person who is the legal guardian or custodian of the victim, where the legal relationship between the guardian and the victim exists because of the age of the victim or the physical or mental incompetency of the victim; provided, however, that such person is not the accused or convicted offender;
(c) "Designated representative of the victim" shall mean the person whom the victim has designated in writing to the appropriate prosecutor as the victim's representative for purpose of exercising all rights contained in this act; and
(d) "Close relative of a deceased victim" means a person who was the spouse of a deceased victim at the time of the victim's death or who is a parent or adult brother, sister or child of the deceased victim; provided, however, that such person is not the accused or the convicted offender.
SECTION 3. Rights of victim, guardian of victim, designated representative of victim, or close relative of deceased victim within criminal justice system.
A victim, guardian of a victim, designated representative of a victim, or close relative of a deceased victim is entitled to the following rights within the criminal justice system:
(a) To be treated with fairness, dignity and respect, and to be free from harassment, intimidation or abuse throughout the criminal justice process;
(b) To have the safety of the victim, his family, any other person, and the community, the nature of the crime charged, and the maximum punishment for the crime taken into consideration in determining whether to release the accused or convicted offender from custody;
(c) To be informed of, and to be present at, all public proceedings relating to the crime, even if the victim is to testify as a witness subject to the rule on sequestration as promulgated by the Mississippi Supreme Court, and to be informed if those proceedings have been canceled or rescheduled prior to the event;
(d) To be heard, if present, and to submit a written statement at a public pretrial or trial proceeding to determine a release from custody, an acceptance of a negotiated plea, or sentencing;
(e) To the rights described in the preceding portions of this section at a parole or post-release supervision proceeding;
(f) To notice of a release, escape or death of the accused or convicted offender;
(g) To an order of restitution from the convicted offender and to receive information regarding compensation to victims of crime as may be provided by law;
(h) To have a transcript, if generated, of any proceedings if requested by the victim and such transcript shall be furnished by the District Attorney;
(i) To be notified prior to any plea bargain in any crime of violence and to consult with the prosecution concerning the plea bargain;
(j) To confer with the prosecution and to be informed concerning the general procedure in the criminal justice system;
(k) To a final disposition of the proceedings relating to the crime free from unreasonable delay, this right shall include: (a) the right to have the Court of Appeals issue a decision in a case assigned to it within two hundred seventy (270) days after the final briefs have been filed with the court; and (b) the right to have the Supreme Court issue a decision in a case within its jurisdiction within two hundred seventy (270) days after the final brief has been filed with the court; and
(l) To notice of the rights established by this act if requested in writing by the victim; however, the right to notice under this section is not violated if the proper authorities make a reasonable effort but are unable to provide the notice, or if the failure of the victim to make a reasonable effort to make those authorities aware of the victim's whereabouts prevents that notice. Notice of the rights established by this act shall be made for all sexual predator crimes, crimes of domestic abuse and murder without the necessity of requesting such notice.
SECTION 4. No relief for accused or convicted offender.
Nothing in this act shall provide grounds for the accused or convicted offender to obtain any form of relief.
SECTION 5. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after the date the constitutional amendment proposed by House Concurrent Resolution No._____, 1998 Regular Session, is certified by the Secretary of State as having been ratified by the people.